FOLLOWING the latest hijacking incident involving Filipino seafarers in the Red Sea during the weekend, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said it is now studying the possibility of declaring certain areas in the Red Sea as high-risk zones.
In a statement on Monday, the agency said it is now consulting employers and seafarers’ groups in the maritime sector before making a final decision on the matter.
It noted it will issue further advisories as necessary.
Filipino seafarers may get additional compensation and the right to refuse sailing in designated high-risk zones.
On Sunday, the DMW confirmed that Filipino mariners were among the crew of an oil tanker, the M/V Central Park that US Naval Forces rescued from a hijacking attempt. See related story in A1.
Citing a report from the US Naval Institute (USNI), DMW said the two Filipino crew members of the tanker are now safe and accounted for.
DMW is now coordinating with the licensed manning and shipping agency of the concerned sailors to get a full report of the incident.
DMW is also trying to reach out to families of the seafarers to give them an update on the status of their loved ones.
“This is the second hijacking incident in as many weeks involving marine vessels with Filipino seafarers in their crew,” DMW noted.
Last week, DMW also reported 17 Filipino seafarers were among the crew of a ship seized by Yemeni Houthi rebels in the Red Sea. The Houthis apparently mistook the British-flagged ship, operated by a Japanese company, as Israeli-owned.
The Houthi navy chief was subsequently reported to have visited all the 25 crew members, including the 17 OFWs, of the Galaxy Leader and took on a more conciliatory tone—in contrast to earlier supposed warnings by the Iran-backed Houthis they would punish anyone working for Israeli entities.
In a television interview on Monday, DMW officer-in-charge Hans J. Cacdac said they are now coordinating with foreign governments, which can help in the release of the captured sailors.
“The situation [of the Filipino sailors] is sensitive so we can be assured that efforts to save them are ongoing,” Cacdac said in Filipino.